October 2, 2022

Silver Prices Will Soar To Record Levels In 2012 – “Record Breaking” Demand For Silver Bullion

Corrections are the norm in any long term bull market and silver is no exception.  The correction that began in May of 2011 and ended in December has set the stage for what will be an explosive move up during 2012 and beyond.

Since hitting the 2011 low of $26.16 on December 29, 2011, silver has climbed steadily, closing on Monday at $33.18, up 17.4% on the year and up 26.8% from last year’s low.  Today’s price should be viewed by long term silver investors as an exceptional opportunity for capital appreciation and wealth preservation.

The underlying fundamentals that will drive silver higher this year include unprecedented demand for both physical silver and silver ETFs, virtually limitless money printing by central banks worldwide to prevent a debt implosion and a growing realization by the public that the Federal Reserve is deliberating and systematically debasing the U.S. currency.

Sales of American Silver Eagle bullion coins by the US Mint may hit an all time record in January.  As of January 30th, the Mint has already sold 6,082,000 bullion coins.  The previous all time record for sales occurred in January 2011 when sales were 6,422,000 ounces.

Last January was atypical in that monthly sales of the Silver Eagles coins tapered off to about 3 million coins per month thereafter and only in September 2011 did sales exceed 4 million coins.  In the three previous years from 2008 to 2010, January sales volume established the baseline of monthly sales for the rest of the year.

For example, in 2009, January sales of the Silver Eagle came in at 1,900,000 coins and average sales for the remaining 11 months averaged 2.44 million coins.  If 2012 follows the pattern of 2008 through 2010, sales of the American Silver Eagle Bullion coins could average 6 million coins per month.  Average silver bullion coins sales of 6 million per month during 2012 would result in a record shattering purchase of 72 million coins, up 80% from last year’s record of 39,868,500 ounces.

American Silver Eagle Bullion Coins
YEAR OUNCES SOLD
2000 9,133,000
2001 8,827,500
2002 10,475,500
2003 9,153,500
2004 9,617,000
2005 8,405,000
2006 10,021,000
2007 9,887,000
2008 19,583,500
2009 28,766,500
2010 34,662,500
2011 39,868,500

The vast majority of holders in the iShares Silver Trust (SLV)  are solidly committed to owning silver and refused to sell positions during the sharp correction of 2011.  When silver hit a high of $48.70 (London PM Fix Price) on April 28th, the iShares Silver Trust held 11,053 tonnes of silver.  After a rapid and sharp correction to $32.50 on May 12th, the SLV silver holdings declined modestly to 10,516 tonnes as short term speculators and over-leveraged investors sold out at the bottom.

On December 29, 2011, as silver hit its low for the year at $26.16, the iShare Silver Trust held 9,605 tonnes.  A correction from the price high on April 28th to the low on December 29th took silver down by 46.3% but holdings of the iShares Silver Trust declined by a very modest 13.1%.  The vast majority of long term silver investors did not sell out during the correction in expectations of sharply higher prices in the future.

Silver - courtesy kitco.com

 

According to Reuters, precious metal dealers are reporting record breaking silver sales and “dollar sales of silver and gold products reached parity in January for the first time in its history – even though bullion costs 50 times more.”  In addition, dealers are selling record number of the Silver Eagle “Monster Boxes” which hold 500 one-ounce coins.

The European Central Bank, which in December lent a massive €489 billion of freshly printed euros to a collapsing banking system may have to provide double that amount (for a total of $1.27 trillion dollars) during the next round of emergency lending scheduled for February.  According to the Financial Times:

European banks are preparing to tap the European Central Bank’s emergency funding scheme for up to twice as much as the ECB supplied in its debut €489bn auction last month, providing further evidence of the sector’s liquidity squeeze.

Several of the eurozone’s biggest banks have told the Financial Times that they could well double or triple their request for funds in the ECB’s three-year money auction on February 29.

The gold to silver ratio, which on a long term historical basis, has been in the range of 16 is now at the bargain ratio of 52, suggesting strongly that silver could outperform gold on a relative value basis.  At a gold to silver ratio of 20, silver would currently be selling at $87 per ounce.

The Sprott Physical Silver Trust (PSLV) just completed a follow on offering of Trust Units in which investors snapped up additional trust units representing about 11 million ounces of silver.

Silver’s rapid price gains during January is a harbinger of what could turn out to be a very good year for silver investors.

Demand For Silver Bullion Coins Hits Record High On Bargain Prices

Sales of American Silver Eagle bullion coins hit an all time record high during 2011 according to production figures from the U.S. Mint.

Sales of the Silver Eagle bullion coins increased by 13.3% in December to 2,009,000 compared to last year’s sales of 1,772,000.  For all of 2011, total Silver Eagle sales came in at an all time record high of 39,868,500 ounces, up 15.0% from the prior year’s total of 34,662,500 ounces.

In addition to the silver bullion coins, the U.S. Mint also produces proof and uncirculated American Eagle silver coins which can be purchased by the public directly from the U.S. Mint.  Commencing in 2010, the U.S. Mint began producing the America the Beautiful Silver Bullion 5oz coin.  During 2011, the U.S. Mint sold 397,700 of the 5oz coins, which represents almost another 2 million ounces of physical silver demand during 2011.

The U.S. Mint does not sell the American Silver Eagle bullion coins directly to the public.  The bullion coins are purchased from the U.S. Mint by a network of authorized purchasers who in turn resell them to secondary retailers for public sale.

Monthly sales of the Silver Eagle bullion coins during 2011 are shown below.

Silver had a volatile year during 2011, reaching a high of $48.70 in April and then dropping to a low of $32.50 in May after the COMEX repeatedly raised margin requirements on silver futures (see How the COMEX Crashed The Silver Market).  After recovering to $43.49 in August, silver declined to end the year at $28.18, off 8.1% for the year.

Despite the volatility in silver prices during 2011, investor demand for physical silver remained exceptionally strong.  After the significant price pullback from the April high, many analysts and armchair commentators who never owned an ounce of silver in their life were predicting a plunge in demand for silver.  The exact opposite occurred as long term investors took advantage of what is another historic buying opportunity comparable to 2008.

The case for buying silver remains rock solid and patient long term investors have been well rewarded.  As opposed to buyers of paper silver products such as the iShares Silver Trust ETF (SLV), holders of physical silver are invested in precious metals as part of a long term wealth preservation and appreciation strategy.  While speculators in paper silver products trade in and out, usually winding up with losses from my observations, long term holders of physical silver have seen the value of their holdings rise significantly.

Silver - courtesy kitco.com

As central banks of the world continue to print money at an accelerated rate, 2012 should be a year of strong gains for both gold and silver.  A steady plan of silver and gold bullion accumulation remains a no-brainer decision.  Since 2008, sales of silver eagle bullion coins have soared.  Last year, extremely heavy demand for silver resulted in periodic product allocations by the U.S. Mint.

In an excellent article by Steve Angelo, it was shown that massive physical demand for both the American Silver Eagles and Canadian Maple Leaf coins resulted in official coin sales surpassing the total silver production of both the United States and Canada.

Expect demand for silver bullion products during 2012 to surpass the record year of 2011.  Shown below are the yearly sales figures since 2000 for the American Silver Eagle bullion coins.

American Silver Eagle Bullion Coins
YEAR OUNCES SOLD
2000 9,133,000
2001 8,827,500
2002 10,475,500
2003 9,153,500
2004 9,617,000
2005 8,405,000
2006 10,021,000
2007 9,887,000
2008 19,583,500
2009 28,766,500
2010 34,662,500
2011 39,868,500

 

American Silver Eagle Bullion Sales Soar As Investors Buy At Bargain Prices

The US Mint’s latest monthly reports on the sale of American Silver Eagle bullion sales show that investor buying has hit all time record levels.

Total sales of the American Silver Eagle bullion coins in 2010 came in at a record high of 34,662,500.

With over two months remaining in 2011, sales of the American Silver Eagle have already surpassed the record level of 2010 with sales of 36,375,500 ounces.  If sales of the Silver Eagle for November and December match the levels of 2010, total sales for 2011 should total over 42 million ounces or more than 20% above the record breaking sales level of 2010.

A review of sales by month for 2011 indicate solid fundamental buying by silver investors.  Typically, buying of an asset will increase as prices go higher and decrease as prices decline.  This was not the case with the American Silver Eagles – despite a sharp sell off in May and September, monthly sales increased as investors took advantage of bargain prices.

Silver had a volatile year, selling at $30.67 per ounce at the beginning of the year and moving up to a high of $48.70 (as measured by the London PM Fix Price) on April 28th.  Silver closed yesterday at $33.47, up $2.80 or 9.1% on the year.

Based on strong fundamental demand for physical silver, expect silver prices to end the year considerably higher.

US Mint Silver Eagle Bullion Sales On Pace For Record High

Since Congress authorized the production of American Eagle Bullion coins in 1986, it has become one of the easiest ways for investors to accumulate a physical position in precious metals.   American Eagle Bullion coins have been available in gold and silver since the program’s inception.  Platinum has been available under the Bullion coin program since 1997.

The bullion coins are priced at the current market price of gold, silver or platinum plus a dealer markup.  The US Mint does not sell the bullion coins directly to investors but instead sells the coins to a network of Authorized Purchasers who resell  the coins to the public.  Unlike commemorative or numismatic coins, the bullion coins will closely track the price of the underlying precious metal making it easy for investors to follow the value of their bullion holdings.

The American Eagle Silver bullion coin is available only in the one ounce size and is particularly attractive to small investors as a cost effective way to hedge against inflation and debasement of paper money.  The US Mint’s American Silver Eagle Bullion program has been successful from the start.  The first year’s sales of bullion Silver Eagles in 1986 was 5,096,000.

Between 1987 and 2007 sales of the Silver Eagle averaged 7.1 million coins per year.  The lowest year on record for sales was in 1996 when sales of the coin were only 3.6 million.  Since 1986, sales of the American Silver Eagle  exceeded 10 million coins only two times during 2002 and 2006.

The financial crisis of 2008 resulted in a surge of Silver Eagle sales as worries intensified over the integrity of paper money and the soundness of the financial system.   During 2008 Silver Eagle sales soared to 19,583,500 coins which was a record high.  In 2009, sales continued to explode reaching 28,766,500 coins and 2010 was another year of record sales at 34,662,500.

Year to date sales of the Silver Eagle bullion coins during 2011 has now reached 25,530,000.  Based on average monthly sales during 2011, sales for the entire year could easily reach 42 million coins, up 20% over last year.

Investors in silver have preserved their purchasing power and increased their wealth.  As previously discussed, the dip in silver prices during May was a buying opportunity and silver prices should be hitting all time highs before year end (see How Soon Will Silver Hit New Highs?).

American Silver Eagle Bullion Sales 2011

 

 

US Mint To Increase Production Of Silver Bullion Coins To Meet “Unprecedented” Demand

The United States Mint announced that it will commence production of American Eagle Silver Bullion Coins at its San Francisco Mint.  For several years now, the Eagle Silver Bullion coins had only been produced at the Mint’s West Point facility.

In a press release this week, the US Mint noted that “Demand for American Eagle Silver Bullion Coins remains at unprecedented high levels.   Adding production at the United States Mint at San Francisco provides manufacturing flexibility across the bullion and numismatic product lines to meet customer needs.”

In the face of huge demand for the silver bullion coins, the US Mint has been allocating orders among its authorized purchasers.  The high demand and limited production has lead to high premiums of up to $5 per coin for purchasers of the silver bullion coins.

The US Mint recently came in for criticism for its failure to meet demand for physical bullion coins.  In early April, during a hearing by the House Financial Services Subcommittee, Rep. Ron Paul criticized the Mint for its failure to meet public demand for silver and gold bullion coins.  Ron Paul linked the shortage of bullion coins to the “huge debasement” of the United State currency and said that it was “imperative” that the US Mint meet public demand for bullion coins.

The US Mint said that it has capacity to mint up to “several hundred thousand coins per week” at the San Francisco facility.  The Mint will use the same packaging and manufacturing process at San Francisco that it uses at West Point and the coins will not have a mint mark.

Although demand for the American Eagle Silver Bullion coins remain high, the purchase of 90% silver coins is becoming a more cost effective and popular way to invest in silver.  There is a very small premium or even a discount from bullion value on the purchase of 90% silver coins.

APMEX is currently selling a $1,000 face value bag of 90% silver coins which contain 715 ounces of pure silver for $27,541.80.  Based on today’s closing New York price for silver of $38.16 per ounce, the silver value of the bag of coins being sold by APMEX is $27,284.

US Mint Gold and Silver Bullion Coin Sales By Month

Through the end of April, the United States Mint has now sold 466,000 ounces of gold and 16,375,000 ounces of silver through its bullion coin programs. In both cases the figures are far ahead of the numbers from the comparable year ago period, despite the higher market price per ounce for the bullion.

Last year through the end of April, US Mint gold bullion sales were 388,000 troy ounces, while the price of gold ranged from a low of $1,058.00 to a high of $1,179.25 per ounce. Silver bullion sales during this period were 11,531,000 with the market price ranging from a low of $15.14 to a high of $18.84 per ounce.

US Mint Gold and Silver Bullion Sales (in ounces)

January February March April Total
American Gold Eagle 133,500 92,500 73,500 108,000 407,500
American Gold Buffalo 38,000 20,500 58,500
Total Gold in ounces 133,500 92,500 111,500 128,500 466,000
American Silver Eagle 6,422,000 3,240,000 2,767,000 2,819,000 15,248,000
ATB Silver 1,127,000 1,127,000
Total Silver in ounces 6,422,000 3,240,000 2,767,000 3,946,000 16,375,000

During the latest month of April 2011, the US Mint recorded sales of 128,500 troy ounces of gold bullion, comprised of 108,000 ounces worth of American Gold Eagles and 20,500 ounces worth of American Gold Buffaloes.

Meanwhile, silver bullion sales for the latest month reached 3,946,000 ounces, the second highest level of the year. For three months running, the pace of sales for the American Silver Eagles had remained approximately the same base level, despite indications of higher demand. The restrained sales are presumably the impact of the US Mint’s allocation program, which rations the available number of bullion coins amongst the authorized purchasers.

The boost in silver bullion sales seen in April was due to the release of the 2011-dated America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coins. These coins each contain five troy ounces of silver and have a diameter of 3 inches. Sales began on April 25, 2011, and authorized purchasers immediately purchased coins accounting for 1,127,000 troy ounces of silver.

Sales of US Mint Gold Bullion Coins Slower on the Week

Gold Eagle Sales Slower, Silver Eagles Little Changed

The number of ounces of gold sold through the US Mint’s bullion programs was slower the past week. Meanwhile, sales of silver bullion rose slightly, although they remain within the same basic range seen over the past several weeks.

The US Mint sold 17,500 troy ounces of gold bullion for the weekly period ending April 13, 2011. This consisted of 13,000 ounces of American Gold Eagles and 4,500 ounces of American Gold Buffalo coins. All gold bullion coins sold during the week were one ounce coins, with no fractional weight coins sold.

This sales level is down from the 32,000 ounces sold in the previous week. The drop may be the impact of seasonality, as precious metals sales tend to be slower around the US individual income tax filing deadline. For the year to date, gold bullion sales have reached 390,000 ounces.

US Mint Bullion Coin Program Sales 4/13/2011 (ounces)

Prior Week Month to Date Year to Date
American Silver Eagle 715,500 1,374,000 13,803,000
American Gold Eagle 13,000 45,000 344,500
America the Beautiful Silver 0 0 0
American Platinum Eagle 0 0 0
American Gold Buffalo 4,500 7,500 45,500

Silver bullion sales for the week reached 715,500 ounces, consisting entirely of the one ounce American Silver Eagle coins. As mentioned in previous reports, these bullion coins continue to be subject to the US Mint’s allocation program. This serves to ration the available supply of coins amongst the authorized purchasers. As such, the weekly sales levels are an indication of the number of coins the US Mint was able to produce and make available, as opposed to the level market demand.

The US Mint has plans to expand the production of Silver Eagles by utilizing the facility at San Francisco, which may be able to strike a few hundred thousand additional coins per week. Test strikes have reportedly begun, and full scale production is expected to begin some time next month. Hopefully, this will alleviate some of the excess demand for silver bullion coins, although it doesn’t seem like it will solve the problem completely.

Ron Paul Links Bullion Coin Shortage To Horrendous Currency Debasement

Rep. Ron Paul, during a Subcommittee hearing on problems at the US Mint, linked the shortage of gold and silver coins to the “huge debasement” of the United States currency.

The remarks came during a hearing by the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Domestic Monetary Policy, entitled “Bullion Coin Programs of the United States Mint: Can They Be Improved?”  Four different coin and previous metals industry experts provided testimony on how to address ongoing problems with coin production and shortages.

After some lengthy discussion by witnesses and committee members regarding shortages of silver coin blanks and marketing and production problems at the US Mint, Rep. Paul focused on what he considered to be the primary reason why the US Mint was, at times, unable to meet public demand for gold and silver coins.

Listed below are highlights of Rep. Paul’s remarks at the Subcommittee hearing.

  1. It is “imperative” that the US Mint should be able to produce an adequate supply of coins to the U.S. public.  According to Rep. Paul, investors are rushing to purchase gold and silver due to quantitative easing by the Federal Reserve.
  2. The US Mint should take the appropriate steps to source enough planchets to meet public demand for gold and silver coins.  People are worried, stated Rep. Paul, and are trying to preserve their wealth through the purchase of gold and silver due to government policies that will lead to inflation and debasement of the currency.  Rep. Paul stated that “If we had a sound currency” there would not be a shortage of gold and silver coins since demand by the public would be a non event.
  3. Rep. Paul detailed the “horrendous huge debasement” that has occurred with the US currency.  In the early 1930’s, when gold was on a fixed exchange rate with the US dollar, the dollar was worth 1/20 ounce of gold.  It was subsequently devalued to 1/35 ounce of gold during the 1940’s, to 1/38 ounce of gold in the early 1970’s and to 1/42 in 1973.  Once it became legal for US citizens to own gold and the dollar was based on market prices, the value of one dollar subsequently dropped to 1/1450 ounce of gold.
  4. Rep. Paul noted that total annual demand during 2011 for Silver Eagle bullion coins should reach 48 million ounces, but that total US silver production would amount to only 40 million ounces.  The US Mint should take all necessary steps to ensure that adequate supplies of silver are available to meet public demand for silver coins.

Although not specifically addressed, the issue of whether the US government is making an effort to limit the sale of gold and silver coin to the public remains an open question.  By law, the US Mint is required to produce coins “in quantities and qualities that the Secretary determines are sufficient to meet public demand”.  There were no US Mint representatives present at the Subcommittee hearing to explain why the US Mint is unable to comply with production mandates specified by law.

US Mint Gold Bullion Coin Sales Shift Back to American Eagles

In the past week, the level of gold bullion sales at the United States Mint rose to a three week high at 35,000 ounces. The level of silver bullion sales remained little changed from recent weeks at 658,500 ounces, as coins continue to be subject to the US Mint’s allocation program.

Buyers shifted their focus back to the American Gold Eagles, which accounted for 32,000 ounces worth of sales. In previous weeks, a larger portion of sales had taken place for the recently released 2011 Gold Buffalo. These one ounce 24 karat gold coins were made available to authorized purchasers starting on March 14. Prior to that date, the coins had last been available from the Mint on September 27, 2010.

US Mint Bullion Coin Program Sales 4/6/2011 (ounces)

Prior Week Month to Date Year to Date
American Silver Eagle 658,500 658,500 13,087,500
American Gold Eagle 32,000 32,000 331,500
America the Beautiful Silver 0 0 0
American Platinum Eagle 0 0 0
American Gold Buffalo 3,000 3,000 41,000

The US Mint sold 658,000 ounces of silver bullion in the form of one ounce American Silver Eagles. Since the 2011-dated versions of the coins were first released, the coins have been subject to the Mint’s allocation program. This program serves to ration the available supplies amongst the eleven authorized purchasers. While the rationing is taking place, the level of silver bullion sales represents the number of coins the US Mint has made available, rather than the demand of the market place.

At a House subcommittee hearing on the US Mint’s bullion coin programs held earlier today, one of the witnesses estimated that the US Mint loses about a third of potential bullion sales because they cannot meet full demand.

US Mint Gold and Silver Bullion Coin Sales

The weekly sales levels for the United States Mint’s gold and silver bullion coins were little changed from the levels of the previous period. Across the available options for gold, sales reached 23,000 ounces. Meanwhile total sales of 697,500 ounces of silver bullion were recorded.

The American Silver Eagle bullion coins feature the obverse design from the classic Walking Liberty Half Dollar. These coins were designed by Adolph A. Weinman and issued for circulation from 1916 to 1947. The reverse design features a heraldic eagle designed by John Mercanti specifically for the series. Each coin is struck in .999 fine silver and contains one troy ounce of silver.

Under current law, the US Mint is required to issue the coins “in quantities and qualities that the Secretary determines are sufficient to meet public demand.” Currently, the bullion version of the coins are subject to rationing, as demand exceeds the available supplies. Recent reports indicate that the US Mint will start limited production at the San Francisco Mint to supplement the production at the West Point Mint.

US Mint Bullion Coin Program Sales 3/30/2011 (ounces)

Prior Week Month to Date Year to Date
American Silver Eagle 697,500 2,069,500 12,429,000
American Gold Eagle 17,000 56,500 299,500
America the Beautiful Silver 0 0 0
American Platinum Eagle 0 0 0
American Gold Buffalo 6,000 38,000 38,000

The American Gold Eagle bullion coins feature the obverse design of the Saint Gaudens Double Eagle struck for circulation from 1907 to 1933. The reverse design features an image of a family of eagles designed by Miley Busiek. Coins are struck in 22 karat (.9167 fine) gold and are available in sizes of 1, 1/2, 1/4, and 1/10 troy ounces. These gold bullion coins are not currently subject to rationing.

American Gold Buffalo coins feature the obverse and revers design of the Buffalo Nickel, issued for circulation from 1913 to 1938. These gold bullion coins are struck in 24 karat (.9999 fineness) and come only in one troy ounce size. The US Mint began sales of the 2011-dated versions of the bullion coins on March 14, 2011.